SBG Claims Another Teacher

This is my first post on a blog, so I’m just a bit nervous.  I’m an old teacher, not quite 60, in my second stint of teaching, not in my major field.  I started my teaching career 36 years ago, left teaching to go into the “real” world, and spent 22 years in a variety of positions.  Five years ago, I approached the principal of our local high school about teaching chemistry.  He asked if I could teach mathematics.  When I said I could, I was offered a job the next day.

I spent the next four years trying to do what nearly every teacher does.  I tried to recreate the education I experienced in high school.  I loved being back in the classroom, but I felt that I was struggling to do anything more than being mediocre as a teacher.

Sometime last year, I came across the blog of Dan Meyer.  I was stunned by the ideas he expressed, especially the concept of Standards Based Grading.  I experimented with it toward the end of last year and was amazed by the reaction of my students.  So this year, I’m jumping into SBG with both feet.  The purpose of this blog is to share the ideas and experiences I have with SBG.  Tonight I want to share the way I am starting the year for comments and suggestions.

We have 11 minute classes on the first day of classes, so this will start the second day of class.  The students will divide themselves into groups of 3, a driver, a timekeeper, and a recorder.  The assignment for that night will be to determine the time it takes to drive     2 – 3 segments of Scottsdale city streets.  We will discuss as a class the best way to determine the average time to cover the segments.

The next day, the students will report their times.  We will put these on a map of the area.  The student groups will be asked to find the fastest route from the high school to a specific location.   They will be asked to prove that their method is the fastest.  The goal will be for them to develop the Dykstra Shortest Path Algorithm.  We will conclude by discussing the role of algorithm’s in the success and frustration of mathematics.

That’s my attempt to try to start off the year with an activity that will engage the students.  Fire away with any comments that may help me to do a better job.


About peacemaker70

I teach Algebra II and Business Math at Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale, Az.
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6 Responses to SBG Claims Another Teacher

  1. Jason Buell says:

    Welcome to the blogosphere. You’ve got your first subscriber.

  2. Top of the morning to ya from Ireland.

    Let me start off by congratulating you on setting up your blog.

    I’m a future maths teacher and a newbee education blogger myself, mine is at please do subscribe.

    I think the students will find the assignment really insteresting.
    Due to my still foundational level knowledge of mathematics (and for those like me who will be reading your blog), I would suggest including hyperlinks in your blog posts to pages which explain the different mathematical terms, e.g. providing a link to a web page that you feel best explains the “Dykstra Shortest Path Algorithm”, wikipedia pages are usually fairly good. I must admite though I struggled with its description of this Algorithm. I know if it was done infront of me I would get it straight away. When I was looking for a better explanation for it I stumbled on to this –

    thought you might be intersted.

    Looking forward to hearing how it goes.


    Aaron @ chalkitdown

  3. Christy says:

    Sounds like a super way to start off the school year….and a great 1st post for your blog too! I look forward to reading more posts in the future.

  4. Welcome! the shortest-path algorithm is a nice start for the algebra 2 class. I hope the business math class is up to it.

    • peacemaker70 says:

      I actually have taught the shortest-path algorithm to Business Math classes the last two years. It’s a lesson that presents the problem of a delivery company trying to find the shortest path to customer and walks them through the process.

      As I was thinking about some of Dan Meyer’s ideas, I realized that the students would love the excuse of driving around town for homework, especially with one or two friends in the car with them. I hope that will increase the level of engagement when we introduce the math.

      I expect that most students will come up with the shortest path easily, but will have difficulty proving that it is shortest. I plan on introducing the algorithm to them at some point.

      My goal is to have a spirited and deep discussion about the frustrations of learning the algorithm we teach in math classes that make things that seem to be easy into something that seems to be hard.

      It will be interesting to see how it goes.

  5. Congrats on your new blog. Like The Science Goddess (What It’s Like On the Inside) told me a few years ago, it’s yours to use/edit/censor it as you see fit.

    Also nice to see another teacher embrace the idea that achievement feedback to students should be unadulterated.

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